Marriages in Canada

1. Does Canada accept marriages registered abroad?
         If you brought a legal marriage certificate issued abroad with you, your marriage usually will be recognized in Canada. But your marriage must not violate any laws of the country where it was issued or the laws of Canada. For example, a marriage between close blood relatives will not be recognized in Canada. Perhaps in the country where such a marriage was issued, it was legal, but in Canada it is not. In some countries, a husband can marry two or more wives; in Canada you can marry only one person. So, marriage certificates issued abroad for more than one spouse will not be recognized in Canada. If you are in doubt as to whether your marriage will be recognized in Canada, consult with a family lawyer.

2. What types of marriages are there in Canada?
          There are civil and religious marriages in Canada. However, if two people are living in common-law relationships, under certain circumstances, they will be also recognized as a married couple. Before getting married you have to apply for a marriage licence and after marriage you have to apply for a marriage certificate.
Source: Family Law. Education for Women (in 14 languages)

3. What is a marriage licence?
          A marriage licence is a legal record that allows you to get married. It is issued by Registry Services anywhere in your province and must be used within three months of the date of issue. After receiving the marriage licence, you are not required to wait any defined period of time before marriage registration. To register your marriage, you and your partner have to come personally with identification and other supporting documentation and fill out the marriage licence application ( The price of a marriage licence varies depending on the city. In Toronto the cost is $140. There are no gender, residency, citizenship or medical requirements for obtaining a marriage licence. Usually you will get it on the same day. Review your marriage licence carefully to see if there are any errors.

4. What is a marriage certificate?
           A marriage certificate is a legal record that confirms that you are married. It is issued by Service Canada. After the marriage, the person who performed the marriage, will sign and give you a Record of Solemnization of Marriage. This document includes your and your spouse’s names, the date of the marriage and the names of the witnesses and states whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a licence. This is not a marriage certificate or a legal record. The person who performed the marriage must send your marriage licence to the provincial government. In Ontario they must send it to Service Ontario for processing. Then, you can apply for a marriage certificate. You can order a marriage certificate about 6-8 weeks after the marriage. Review it carefully to see if there are any errors.

5. What is a civil marriage?
            Marriage is one of the most important events in the lives of many people. Getting married in Ontario requires legal documentation and compliance with Ontario laws. Additionally, the rules are different for those getting married for the first time and those who have been divorced. In Ontario, the legal age for entry into legal civil marriage is 18 years, but in some cases, with the written consent of both your parents, the age can be lowered to 16. Consent forms can be obtained where you get a marriage licence. You must get married in person. No other individual can stand in your place and you may not do so over the Internet or telephone.
Statistics reveal that most Canadians marry at a rather mature age. Statistics Canada reports that between the years 1972 and 2008, the average age of the first marriage for women rose from 22 to 29 years and for men from 24 to 31 years.

6. How do I find the right place to have a civil marriage?
          A civil marriage may be performed by a judge, justice of the peace or a municipal clerk under the authority of a marriage licence. Each municipality can offer civil marriage services and set its own fees. Contact your municipal office for more information. There are three wedding chambers in Toronto: Scarborough Civic Centre, North York Civic Centre and York Civic Centre. To book a facility, go to The cost is about $120 for a 30 minute booking. Also, you may arrange a marriage ceremony outside of clerk offices in any location you wish. For example, in the summer you can perform a marriage ceremony in the park and in the winter, you can get married in a greenhouse.

7. What is a religious marriage?
          Statistically, 75% of Canadians prefer religious marriage ceremonies under various religious laws. Perhaps the same number applies to immigrants. In a religious ceremony, you can be married by an official who is recognized by your faith group. For example, there are ceremonies under Canon (Christian) law, Sharia (Islamic) law, Halakha (Jewish) law, as well as Hindu law, Sikh law and many other faith-based laws. A religious marriage can be registered by a priest or other religious official who has a special permit for the registration of religious marriage in Canada and has the right to issue a marriage certificate. Because religious laws do not always contain rules, which cover all the rights and duties of the spouses according to Canadian law, it is recommended that besides religious marriage, you register for civil marriage as well. Then you will be fully protected by Canadian marriage law.

                                                                    (To be continued)